Penn State Hoops Suffers Heartbreaking Overtime Loss To Minnesota In Big Ten Tournament
The black and pink uniforms lost some of their magic on Thursday night.
Penn State men’s basketball (14-18, 7-14 Big Ten) suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to seven seed Minnesota (20-12, 10-11 Big Ten), during the second round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday night.
In typical Penn State fashion, the Nittany Lions managed to lose a lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game as the Gophers forced overtime and eventually won 77-72. This marks the fourth consecutive time the Nittany Lions have lost to the Golden Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament.
How It Happened
Jamari Wheeler opened up the scoring with a crafty bucket in the paint, 35 seconds into the game. After taking the initial lead, however, Penn State went on to commit three fouls in the span of three minutes, allowing Minnesota to jump ahead on the scoreboard 5-4.
Then, Mike Watkins entered the game and things started to change offensively for the Nittany Lions. Josh Reaves nearly avoided a fall and lobbed the ball to Watkins for a monstrous dunk. The next two offensive plays for Penn State had almost identical results. Watkins converted three consecutive dunks, scoring six quick points before heading back to the bench after working his way into some foul trouble.
By the first game break, the Nittany Lions led 10-5, after going 5-for-6 from field goal range, compared to Minnesota’s frustrating 1-for-7 start. Despite the poor shooting performance, Minnesota was able to hang in the game from the free throw line, eventually finding some sort of rhythm on the offensive end.
Minnesota slowly chipped away at an eight point deficit, going on a 13-6 run and taking a 26-25 lead with 4:34 remaining in the half.
Lamar Stevens broke Penn State’s 0-10 shooting spell with a three-pointer less than a minute later. He hit a fadeaway jumper the next time down the court, and Josh Reaves closed out the half with yet another powerful dunk, securing a 34-30 Penn State lead going into halftime.
The second half got off to a solid start for the Nittany Lions. Mike Watkins went back to work in the paint, scoring another eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Behind the double-digit performances of Mike Watkins, Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves, and Jamari Wheeler, Penn State successfully extended the lead to eight once again with 4:57 to go in the game.
Then, Minnesota went on a dominant 6-0 run in the remaining minutes, tying the score at 59 with 1:17 left to play. Lamar Stevens made a tough shot in the paint to regain the lead for the Nittany Lions, but Minnesota’s McBrayer drained a jump shot that sent the game into overtime.
From this point on, things didn’t look too good for the Nittany Lions. Minnesota’s Amir Coffey opened overtime scoring with an emphatic dunk, giving the Nittany Lions a little taste of their own medicine. Josh Reaves and Jamari Wheeler carried the Penn State offense in overtime, but ultimately, it just wasn’t enough. Frustrations ran high in the final seconds of the game, resulting in a technical foul for Jamari Wheeler and the ejection of Mike Watkins. Patrick Chamber’s squad fell short 72-77, putting the final exclamation point on a disappointing season.
- After going 7-3 in the final ten games of the regular season, Penn State definitely carried some momentum into the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions showed flashes of true talent and potential throughout the game, before reminding us once again of how painful this season truly was.
- Lamar Stevens demonstrated exactly why he was named First Team All-Big Ten. He led all scorers with 24 points and seemed almost unstoppable on the offensive end of the floor. That is, until the final minutes of the ball game when Minnesota resorted to double teaming him. Senior Josh Reaves also contributed a lot tonight, racking up 12 points, six rebounds, and 5 assists.
- Another devastating loss has us questioning Patrick Chamber’s job security and the future of this Nittany Lion team. It appears that Chambers will be back next season, but perhaps the end of his line is approaching.
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